For the third straight election cycle, Philomath has a choice to make when it comes to mayor. The Benton County Elections Office plans to mail out ballots this week for the Nov. 8 general election.

This is the second of a five-part series of questions and answers to be published this week at PhilomathNews.com. Philomath mayoral candidates are incumbent Chas Jones and challenger Lawrence Johnson.

For more information, the Benton County Elections Office uploaded each candidate’s filing form. Information on the forms include details on occupation, educational background and prior governmental experience. Click here for Jones. Click here for Johnson.

In addition, the Benton County Voters’ Pamphlet is available here.

This is the second of five questions asked of the candidates. Each candidate was allowed no more than 200 words for each individual answer with no exceptions. Answers were edited only for punctuation and typos and to conform to newspaper style guidelines (abbreviations, capitalization, etc.).

What is your top priority for this city over the length of your public service?

JOHNSON: My priority is to improve municipal services while maintaining quality of life for all. My improvement examples include: review the budget in detail; evaluate where money is spent and where it needs to be spent; ensuring the city has enough water for the future since 97% of the water is from Marys River, a finite source; enforce traffic laws because speeding is a real issue; responding to environment issues with solar panels, electric vehicles, water conservation; amend the planning criteria to better reflect water, sewer and traffic; ensure that conditions of approval attached to developments are complied with; and include the City Council as a part of the conditions approval review because the current process leaves approval in the hands of an unelected city official.

JONES: My biggest priority for Philomath is economic revitalization of our city. I envision a vibrant city with a bustling local economy and welcoming downtown gathering places for all. I dream of a community where many of our residents have local, Philomath-based jobs and do not need to travel to neighboring cities to meet their basic needs or to purchase healthy, locally-grown, pesticide-free vegetables and other foods.

I see a Philomath that honors its history as a timber town, while celebrating the full range of diversity of its residents. I love Philomath, and I want it to continue to be recognized as the Willamette Valley’s crown jewel. This is how I see Philomath, and I want it to continue being the best little timber town this side of the Cascades. Our streetscapes project is a major step towards that goal and construction should be starting any day.

Coming Wednesday: Housing developments have been a major issue in Philomath over the past few years. What’s your perspective on what the city needs to do moving forward to avoid some of the pitfalls that have been seen?

CANDIDATES Q-and-A
PUBLISHED
Monday, Oct. 17: What do you envision as the role of the mayor and what do you believe constitutes appropriate and effective citizen representation?
Tuesday, Oct. 18: What is your top priority for this city over the length of your public service?
COMING
Wednesday, Oct. 19: Housing developments have been a major issue in Philomath over the past few years. What’s your perspective on what the city needs to do moving forward to avoid some of the pitfalls that have been seen?
Thursday, Oct. 20: City government transparency concerns seem to occasionally surface. Do you believe transparency is an issue? If so, what would you do to fix it? If not, what do you think the city is doing that’s working?
Friday, Oct. 21: Many in the community believe that the candidates have associated themselves with certain other candidates whether it’s through advertising, yard signs or other means. What are your thoughts on these perceived alliances, including the pros and cons of this election strategy?

Brad Fuqua, Philomath News

Brad Fuqua has covered the Philomath area since 2014 as the editor of the now-closed Philomath Express and currently as publisher/editor of the Philomath News. He has worked as a professional journalist since 1988 at daily and weekly newspapers in Nebraska, Kansas, North Dakota, Arizona, Montana and Oregon.